Welcome back to 80s Bits, the weekly column in which we explore the best and worst of the Decade of Shame. With guest writers, hidden gems and more, it’s truly, truly, truly outrageous.
There is a whole vault full of fantastic forgotten 80s teen genre films. Welcome to 18 (1986), co-written and directed by Terry Carr, is a clear reminder of this, an innocent post high school party T&A flick without the T&A.
Welcome to 18 follows three girlfriends, Lindsey (Courtney Thorne-Smith), Joey (Mariska Hargitay), and Robin (JoAnn Willette), on their summer adventure. Leaving their school days behind the naïve chicks soon discover that the world isn’t as fun as they thought and it’s really scary working out what to do in life. Packing up Lindsey’s red convertible they head for the hills to work at a horse ranch with plans to make some extra cash and meet some hot local cowboys. After weeks of horse poop scooping, blistering hard work and dealing with dragon boss Miss Bulah (Micole Mercurio) their ideal vacation comes to a halt. On a whim they take up an offer made by Millionaire’s Mistress Talia (Cristen Kauffman) to stay at their lakeside pad. Set up with fake IDs and jobs at the local casino, the girls holiday plans spiral into chaos and overdrive. Their “fun loving summer on top of the world” begins to look like it may end up “at the bottom of the lake”.
There are many amusing and entertaining moments full of clichés throughout the film. During the initial road trip the wholesome teens tease some bypassing boys with what appears to be their panties leading to a humorous cop chasing incident. From being on food rations at the ranch to a smorgasbord of meals available at the private mansion, the girls are left to cook for themselves when they move into their cabin hideout, diet consisting of hairspray, marshmallows and popcorn – for their source of vegetable. Fuscha Bloom, their cross dressing neighbour, conveniently saves the day bringing the group caviar as a welcoming gift which is the perfect appetizer for their game of beauty product poker.
Courtney Thorne-Smith, now know for her roles in TV series Melrose Place, According to Jim and Two and a Half Men, plays Lindsay, valedictorian, volleyball player, girls club president and …VIRGIN. “I’ve never had a really meaningful …romantic …relationship”. Mariska Hargitay, recognisable from TV series Law & Order: SVU, plays the cautious Joey who is pursued by entomologist and bug lover Cory and seeks revenge on sleaze Roscoe by burning all his amateur porn tapes which includes her own shower scene. Robin (JoAnn Willette) is the ditsy but funky wig wearing spirit of the bunch. She befriends and confides in Fuscha who takes a liking to her wigs, in particular the “blue screamer”.
The soundtrack is full of beats and synthesized sounds stereotypical of the day. Credits to the tracks are full of relatively unknown one hit wonders. Randell Kirsch creates the perfect atmosphere for the climactic rescue scene with the aptly titled “Somebody’s Gonna Get Into This House”.
Re-live what it’s like to be 18 again, a time of carefree fun and excitement, where everything seems possible, new experiences are had, decisions are made on a whim and no matter how bad things are love and friendship concur all with Welcome to 18.